Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book about God and theology entitled,
When Bad Things Happen To Good People. It is a religious philosophy or concept that I can understand. What I have struggled with my entire life is why good things happen to bad people. That is a much more difficult thing for me to understand.
Here is a clear example of why or how good things happen to bad people. According to a study reported by Reuters, many or most people get ahead in big business (and by implication, Big Law) by making their subordinates miserable.
"The fact that 64.2 percent of the respondents indicated that either nothing at all or something positive happened to the bad leader is rather remarkable -- remarkably disturbing," wrote the study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia.
The study pretty much applies here as well. The study suggests that these spiteful supervisors cause nightmares, insomnia, depression and exhaustion among their subordinates. In short they are doing real harm.
The problem, in my opinion, is even more pronounced in Big Law and in-house legal departments. This is so because evil influence of these bad actors is projected into the greater marketplace and in ways that takes advantage of our legal system.
The biggest issue, it seems to me, for business and for law firms, concerns resources. These people that seem to be so engaged are in fact extremely wasteful. They act out badly by concentrating resources on problems and matters that have no logical business result. In short, they do it out of spite, or hate, or opportunism, or whatever -- everybody else be damned.
As those associated with the study suggest is the immediate intervention by business chiefs (and in our case Big Law managing partners) to stop fledgling authoritarians from rising up the ranks. The problem is, however, that the managing partners and business chief most likely represent the authoritarians that have already made it up the rank. Just as Alberto Gonzales is not going to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate himself, Big Law partners are not going to intervene to stop people like them from making their way up the ranks.
Arrogance is never a good thing. In big business and Big Law it is rewarded. But, we need to remember that people that would eat their young, will eat their business and law partners as well.